Initial Thoughts Fall 2015

These are some recommended texts:

The Burnout Society by BYUNG-CHUL HAN.

Chapter 1 is entitled “The Neuronal Power” and sets out with the claim that frames the entire essay: “Every age has its main maladies.” Han differentiates the bacterial age that ended (at the latest) with the discovery of antibiotics, the viral age that ended with the advance of immunology, and finally the present age: the neuronal age. Its dominant maladies are neurological illnesses like depression, ADHD, borderline personality syndrome and burnout syndrome. The crucial difference between maladies of the viral age and the neuronal age is that between infection and infarction. An infection is caused by the negativity of the immunological other, whereas an infarct is the result of an excess of positivity. Unlike a virus, neuronal illnesses cannot simply be warded off like an outside attacker. Text Via axylus

Ubiquitous Photography by Martin Hand. 1st Edition.

Ubiquitous Photography provides a critical examination of the technologies, practices, and cultural significance of digital photography, placing the phenomenon in historical, social, and political-economic context. It examines shifts in image-making, storage, commodification, and interpretation as highly significant processes of digitally mediated communication in an increasingly image-rich culture. It covers debates in social and cultural theory, the history and politics of image-making and manipulation, the current explosion in amateur photography, tagging and sharing via social networking, and citizen journalism. The book engages with key contemporary theoretical issues about memory and mobility, authorship and authenticity, immediacy and preservation, and the increased visibility of ordinary social life.

The Anthrobscene by Jussi Parikka.

Smartphones, laptops, tablets, and e-readers all at one time held the promise of a more environmentally healthy world not dependent on paper and deforestation. The result of our ubiquitous digital lives is, as we see in The Anthrobscene, actually quite the opposite: not ecological health but an environmental wasteland, where media never die. Jussi Parikka critiques corporate and human desires as a geophysical force, analyzing the material side of the earth as essential for the existence of media and introducing the notion of an alternative deep time in which media live on in the layer of toxic waste we will leave behind as our geological legacy.

Read THE GEOLOGY OF MEDIA, an article by Jussi Parikka.

Watch “Erased Landscape” HERE.
HERE 5: Erased Landscape – the making of flat land in central San Francisco.

Watch the episodes of Saving the Bay

Optional Reading:
The Really Big One. An earthquake will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest. The question is when.

Field Trip 03: The Cranium Corporation, The Red Poppy Art House

Inaccurate Walking Time and Map by Google

Today we started our walk at the 16th and Mission BART Station, and headed to The Cranium Corporation to meet Angel Rafael “Ralph” Vázquez-Concepción. He is an independent curator from Puerto Rico based in San Francisco, California. His work oscillates between the rigor and structure of writing and architecture and the controlled chaos of scientific experiments and multimedia art installation. His projects range from exhibition design to community based work and generative art, and is a strong believer in art as a radical tool for education and innovation. We then moved to The Red Poppy Art House to meet with it founder Todd Brown. Todd is an interdisciplinary artist engaged in performative inquiry and visual arts. As a visual artist, Brown has 25 years combined experience in oil painting and mixed media, with 11 years professional teaching experience. The Red Poppy is a neighborhood center for the intersection of cultural and inter-generational artistic engagement located in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District. The Poppy is an artist-driven organization that seeks to empower and transform society by addressing current social issues that impact our community and society at large through creative processes.

Special Thanks to “Ralph” Vázquez-Concepción, Todd Brown, and Arezoo Islami.

Beyond Networks and “Humanity”

This selection (texts, images, videos) was shared in the Relational Cartographies class and therefore is missing some of the connecting tissue conveyed verbally and during discussion.

All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace by Adam Curtis

The Use and Abuse of Vegetational Concepts
The Monkey In The Machine and the Machine in the Monkey

Art School (Propositions for the 21st Century)

Paul Stamets: 6 ways mushrooms can save the world

Mycorrhizal Root Tips (Amanita)



Slum in Quito, Ecuador

The Emergence of Multispecies Ethnography

Unruly Edges: Mushrooms as Companion Species by Anna Tsing, Anthropology, University of California, Santa Cruz.

Friction:An Ethnography Global Connection
Chapter: Forest of Collaborations. Page 257:

“History is not an exclusively human affair, quite the opposite…It is unthinkable as well as unlivable outside the multi-species cat’s cradle games.” –Donna Haraway.

View north from the summit of Gunung Besar (Daniel Quinn, October 2011)

The Meratus Mountains is a mountain range in the Indonesian province of South Kalimantan, on Borneo island. The mountains run in a north-south arc that divides South Kalimantan province into two almost equal parts.

Ethnosphere refers to both the accumulation of living cultures and the ancient lineages from which they evolved. Ethnobotanist and anthropologist Wade Davis coined ethnosphere in his book Light at the Edge of the World.

“Indigenous people are neither sentimental nor weakened by nostalgia.There’s not a lot of room for either in the malarial swamps of the Asmat or the chilling winds of Tibet. But they have, nevertheless, through time and ritual, forged a traditional mystique of the Earth that is based not on the idea of being self-consciously ‘close’ to it, but on a far subtler intuition: the idea that the Earth itself can only exist because it is breathed into being by human consciousness. Now, what does that mean? It means that a young kid from the Andes who is raised to believe that that mountain is an Apu spirit that will direct his or her destiny will be a profoundly different human being and have a different relationship to that resource, or that place, than a young kid from Montana raised to believe that a mountain is a pile of rock ready to be mined. Whether it’s an abode of spirit or a pile of ore is irrelevant; what’s interesting is the metaphor that defines the relationship between the individual and the natural world.”–Wade Davis

ALUNA is made by and with the KOGI, a genuine lost civilization hidden on an isolated triangular pyramid mountain in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia, nearly five miles high, on the Colombian-Caribbean coast.

Constellations of Indigeneity: The Power of Definition by Claire Timperley.

“While the political theory literature on historical injustice often addresses questions of what is owed to indigenous peoples, there is limited direct engagement with how—specifically—being indigenous might influence particular rights or duties. Focusing on the ways that indigeneity is defined and used might influence accounts of historical injustice, many of which assume that indigeneity is a legitimate, important feature of rights claims, without fully exploring what indigeneity might entail.

This is problematic, because defining indigeneity has at least two important consequences. First, it affects who has access to resources or rights reserved for indigenous peoples. While defining oneself or being defined as indigenous may have negative implications—such as those detailed above—increasingly, it may offer certain privileges in terms of rights, resources, and access to economic and symbolic reparations. Second, it shapes the kinds of privileges and resources available to indigenous peoples, including redefining development policies that are culturally appropriate, developing monitoring mechanisms to improve accountability of policies, and promoting non-discrimination and inclusion of indigenous peoples in local, national, and international laws, policies and projects. Certain conceptions of indigeneity may be driving some of these policies, thus affecting the kinds of programs organizations like the UN choose to support. For example, linking indigeneity to spiritual understandings of the land may require particular kinds of reparations not frequently considered in liberal, Western frameworks, which tend to privilege property rights over non-tangible resources or opportunities.”

Fuck for Forest is a non-profit environmental organization founded in 2004 in Norway by Leona Johansson and Tommy Hol Ellingsen. It funds itself through a website of sexually explicit videos and photographs, charging a membership fee for access. A portion of funds are donated to the cause of rescuing the world’s rainforests.

Cartographies of Disaster

The Japanese earthquake changed our relationship to place, and post-disaster social media changed it again.

“Natural disasters are fundamentally experiences of place: The epicenter was here. It was this many miles from this other place. It affected here and here and here. Place is understood through position and relationship, through contact and distance.

Geography determines terrestrial points of contact. These change, but usually at a rate barely perceptible to the human eye. Politics and language anchor societal points of contact, through alliance, ideological similarity, and shared knowledge. These change more quickly than continents, but stay stable long enough to fill history textbooks. Communication technologies scaffold personal points of contact. These change quickly indeed.”

Cartographies of Disaster